“I met him once.
Late at night while I walked
down a dark road.
D e a t h .”
I met him once. Late at night while I walked on my own down a dark road. Only the moon illuminated my path, and there were no other souls in sight. Back then, walks like that were soothing. They cleared my head. But when I saw the tall, shadowy figure drop out of sight ahead of me, I knew I should turn back. That if I kept going, I wouldn’t like what waited for me. But I told myself that it was irrational. I saw the wind blowing through the trees, not a person. And certainly not a flash of something silver.
So I told myself, just keep going — the next stop sign would loop me back around towards home. I told myself, ignore the quickening pace of my heartbeat. Ignore that little voice in the back of my head telling me to run the opposite direction. In hindsight, I should’ve listened to those feelings. And of course, those instincts were right. When I approached the spot I thought I saw him, I heard a crunching on the gravel behind me. I spun around, and knew instantly who he was. D e a t h .
He clucked his tongue at me through the black hood that cast his entire face in shadow. I could’ve sworn I could see his dead, gray eyes, but a small voice in my head told me it was impossible. “You shouldn’t be out here, little girl,” he hissed. That was when all the blood drained from my face and I caught sight of the blade on his back when he moved to circle around me. “Don’t worry, I’m not here for you. But I’ll be seeing you.” He nodded to me in goodbye and then he disappeared into the shadows again.
For a long time, I stood there, gaping at the blackness where he retreated. And when I finally caught my breath, with my racing heart slowed to a reasonable level, I ran back the way I came. By sunrise the following morning, my mind was already trying to discredit my memory. But I knew the truth. I met Death, face to face. And he let me live. Was it a warning? I didn’t know.
But when I made my way to the kitchen for coffee before class, I overheard the local newscaster talking about a drunk driver that struck a tree not far from the intersection I was heading towards before my encounter. I knew that road. That driver would’ve hit me before he even saw I was there. I couldn’t fathom why Death stopped me. But I knew one thing. He wanted me to keep living. For now.
I didn’t take it as a bad omen. How could I when Death saved my life?
© Sarah Doughty